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ANTI-VIOLENCE VIGIL LAUNCHED

Launched in 2016 on September 10, to coincide with World Suicide Prevention day, “Voices Against Violence Candlelight Vigil” was held under the theme, ‘Connect… Communicate…Care’. This year the date remains the same but theme has changes: 'Take A Minute, Save A Life'

This initiative is inexpensive and easy to organize - each participant simply needs a candle or can even use a cell phone - and that brings communities together. Thus vigils can be organized by religious institutions, local businesses, sports and youth clubs, political party groups…just about any entity or set of individuals including schools. Where possible two or more groups can collaborate. Each vigil selects routes around the community, ends at a central point or any other selected place where the participants can be accommodated and hold a ralliy whereby preselected individuals from within or without the community speke on the theme of anti-violence. Where desired, inter faith prayers can be conducted and cultural items persented. During the walk about anti-violence slogans can be chanted and placards and banners carried

For the purposes of this vigil all of the following are considered acts of violence either against self or others: trafficking, suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic and child abuse, rape, incest, teenage pregnancy, road carnage, dysfunctional relationships, neglect of the elderly, abuse of the mentally and physically challenged. Besides, relationship violence and its dysfunctional socialization spawn, which are more and more looming as issues of critical urgency, can and do shape personalities that easily gravitate towards crime and attending violence. Thus, violence should be addressed holistically and when communities come together they can begin to become more caring and build more togetherness while getting their feet wet in the practice of mindfulness. In effect, anti-violence must become everybody’s business and immediately so! The candle light vigil, held in communities throughout the nation, is a step in this direction.

At the end of the day, Guyana is small enough, both in terms of demographics and inhabited landscape, for this vigil to be eminently doable, especially given that most of what needs to be harnessed is already in place. In fact, Guyana’s history teaches that politics, race, religion are never obstacles in the face of people’s willpower and resolve.  Besides, the vigil will foster community collaboration, focus on saving lives and preventing harm, and foster the process of societal transformation.

Vigil partners appeal to local and community leaders, businessmen and other influentials as well as community organizations, including religious institutions and sports club, to please help bring off this activity by ensuring that a vigil is organized in every community, collaboratively where possible. If anyone can spearhead a vigil, or knows of an individual or entity, who can be instrumental in organizing vigils please touch base with us.

So that we can map all vigils, provide any necessary assistance, including publicity and ensure that all vigils are acknowledged and lauded, The Caribbean Voice is requesting that all vigil organizers/potential organizers do contact us ASAP. In Guyana call  Nazim S. Hussain at 644-1152 or Keshni Rooplall at 697-9968. In North America call Annan at 646-461-0574, Ty at 646-589-3135 or Sham at 954-778-3222. Send email to keshni.rooplall@yahoo.com or caribvoice@aol.com. IM  Sham Tilak, Keshni Rooplall, Dan Ali, Theresa Arifa or Annan Boodram on Facebook.

 

VOICES AGAINST VIOLENCE CALENDAR

The success of the candlelight vigil led to a decision to make Voices Against a monthly event with a different focus each month.  The calendar is as follows:

January.....................................................................Youth Focus

February...............................Emphatic Communication

March........................Self-Esteem and Coping Skills

April............................................................................Sexual Abuse

May...................................................................................Child abuse

June................................................Alcoholism/Drug Abuse

July...................Building stakeholders Collaboration

August.....................................................................Mental Health

September..............................................Suicide Prevention

October..........................................Gender based violence

November.........................................Depression & Anxiety

December.........................................................................Self Care

 

Vigil Rationale and Objectives

“Voices Against Violence,” a candle light vigil, set for World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, 2017, under the theme, ‘Take A Minute, Save A Life’.  It is an attempt to get communities across Guyana involved in anti-violence activism, while fostering the concept of communal action for community well being. In a landscape where social cohesion is conspicuous by its absence, it is hoped that this vigil will catalyze a process of change in this respect.

The overall objective is to begin the process of community taking ownership for their safety every which way and that process is expected to also create the environment for NGOs to collaborate with community leaders and organizations to hold community empowerment sessions and help implement anti-violence training. For example TCV'S ‘Train the Trainer’ program trains trainers who can then go into communities and train first responders who will act as the eyes and ears of their communities and take proactive action where and when necessary.

Thus, violence should be addressed holistically and when communities come together they begin to communicate, connect and care as they build togetherness while getting their feet wet in the practice of mindfulness.  This process is also hoped to enhance NGO/NGO collaboration, thereby enabling more impactful work, more extensively and more cost effectively within communities. In this way the help will reach where its most needed and hopefully positive changes will emerge sooner than later.

 

Suggested Vigil Format

“Voices Against Violence” is an attempt to get communities across Guyana involved in anti-violence activism, while fostering the concept of communal action for community well being. This candle light vigil is an initiative that is inexpensive and easy to organize - each participant simply needs a candle - and that brings communities together. Thus vigils can be organized by religious institutions, local businesses, sports and youth clubs, political party groups…just about any entity or set of individuals including schools. Where possible two or more groups can collaborate.

Each vigil can select routes around the community, end at a central point or any other selected place where the participants can be accommodated and hold a rally whereby preselected individuals from within or without the community can speak on the theme of anti-violence in general or on specific issues that resonate with particular communities, and, if desired, inter faith prayers can be conducted. We are also putting together a list of songs by Guyanese singers that can be found on youtube, songs that address all the issues. Some of these can be used during the march or the assembly or both, if desired. It will be available closer to vigil date. I possible singers within communities can also learn and perform the songs live.

Instead of candles cell phones can be used as well as diyas and bottle lamps if safely handled; safety is absolutely important! Vehicles can join in since their headlamps would add light. Organizers can approach businesses and professionals like doctors and lawyers within a community for small donations to help purchase candles. And anti-violence slogans can be chanted; if necessary we can provide some slogans. This can either be done all together or like a call and response with one or two persons saying them and then everyone else repeating. At the assembly point organizers may want to erect a small stage if needed and may also need a PA system, which can be borrowed from religious institutions, political parties and so on.

Organizers can also do a banner with the vigil ribbon and an anti-violence message, and place somewhere in the community to help promote the vigil and this can also be used at the vigil. They may also need to walk around their community to inform and persuade people to participate. If possible they can also go around the community with a PA system as well.  And various groups can keep reminding their members and ask them to spread the word to others.

Finally we strongly suggest that this message be emphasized: once you identify a warning sign for suicide please drop everything and take action. Get the person professional help immediately. Such messages would include persons saying they want to die, they want to kill themselves, they are thinking of taking poison, they feel like ending it all, they have nothing to live for …but other warning signs can include sudden changes in behavior (positively or negatively) such as constant mood swings, lack of motivation,  listlessness,  wanting to be alone

 

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VOICES AGAINST VIOLENCE

VOICES AGAINST VIOLENCE